11/07/2002 12:00AM

Clarke's no longer a two-win guy


FORT ERIE, Ontario - Jamie Clarke didn't have much to boast about last year, his first as a full-time trainer. He won just twice in 36 starts.

"I only had four [horses] and they were bad," said Clarke, a 34-year-old Fort Erie native who is doing much better here this year.

With a win on Monday and another on Tuesday, Clarke has moved into a 14th-place tie in the 2002 standings. He heads into the final week of the meet Saturday with a record of 16 wins from 72 starts and with expectations of lifting his winning percentage of 22 even higher.

"I've got Syndicate Blues out Saturday, and he's got a real good shot," said Clarke, a former starting gate employee here.

"On Sunday, Peruse may run again [she won last Sunday]. I'll enter Rose Darling for Monday. At least two of them should win."

Clarke credits client Bob Klimtzak of Seneca, N.Y., for the leap forward in 2002. Klimtzak, a contractor, used to train Standardbreds in the 1970's and 1980's. He owns six runners.

"Thanks to Bob, I got some nice horses at the start and he claimed some good ones," said Clarke. "We'll take a couple to Tampa in the winter to race and look for a couple to claim."

Clarke worked under trainers Roger Attfield, Jim Day, and Mike Doyle. He also served as an assistant to Bill Brennan here and to Bob Scanlan, who operates a high-profile training center in Ocala, Florida.

Tuttle tops $1 million mark

Chris Tuttle reached the $1 million mark in purse earnings at the meet on Monday when Star From Heaven won the second race.

Tuttle is only the second trainer to reach that plateau. Leading trainer Layne Giliforte accomplished the feat last month.

Tuttle scored a hat trick on Sunday. His third winner was 3-year-old Lady Drama ($13), who took the feature, an allowance for fillies and mares, non-winners of three lifetime. Her share of the purse was $23,340.

Tuttle claimed Lady Drama for $10,000 on Sept. 17, and has run her four times since. "She's now won three in a row," he noted. "And she beat a couple of good ones belonging to Giliforte. I'm putting her away for the year."

McGirr: Therapy not as soft as he seems

Once again on Saturday, owner-trainer Shelley McGirr will try and rid her maiden Therapy of "seconditis."

Therapy, a 4-year-old, has finished second in each of his last nine starts and in 10 of his last 11. Yet McGirr doesn't believe that it's a case of "not wanting to win."

"He's always been in a field where there is someone who is just a little bit better," she said. "He's trying all the time, but someone always manages to go by him. If you watch him, he runs right to the wire all the time."

* For the first time at Fort Erie a jockey has surpassed $2 million in purse earnings. And it's been done by both the meet's leader, Martin Ramirez ($2,077,391), and runner-up Chris Griffith ($2,073,481).

Ramirez, who has a 13-win lead in the jockey standings with 123 tallies, will ride in Tampa Bay during the winter.